My name is Jerome Cottner and I am part of the #ctgfamily. I am a nine-year Veteran of the United States Marine Corps, and have two children that are the center of my entire world. Between work, kids, school, gym, training, OCR races, and softball, I keep a very busy schedule, but I like it that way. Living a healthy, active lifestyle is very important to me. I want to be around as long as I can to watch my two children grow up, walk my daughter down the aisle, coach my son in sports, and one day be an active grandparent. I often bite off more than I can chew, but I am a strong believer in never giving up on yourself, especially after you have started something. If I set out to do something, I will see it through to the finish. Never, ever, ever, ever quit.

This motto was put to the test in April of 2012. As you can imagine, training was a large part of my military career. While in the Marine Corps, I held the additional duties of second-degree black belt martial arts instructor, combat conditioning instructor, and combat air crewman, and was also in charge of numerous body composition programs. One day, while doing routine training, I ruptured both of my patellar tendons at the same time causing my kneecaps to thrust up half way up my thighs. This was a devastating injury. I was told by doctors and therapists alike that I would never be able to train and perform as I once did. For me, this was unacceptable, and I refused to let this injury, while severe, sideline me for the rest of my life. After learning how to walk again, I endured six different knee surgeries, and months of extensive physical therapy. However, through faith, hard work, determination, and that never, ever, ever, ever give up motto, I am in better shape than I was in the Marine Corps and training even harder.

The picture below was taken after my first surgery. I keep this photo as a constant reminder of where I was, and that no matter what life throws at me, I can get through anything as long as I am willing to completely remove all excuses and remain focused.

My first OCR experience was at the Conquer The Gauntlet in Kansas City. I was hooked immediately. I joined the MAOCR (Mid-American Obstacle Course Racers) group, and haven’t looked back. In this sport we are often asked the question, “why do you race?” For myself, it is not about winning, losing, or podium finishes, but the people. I have personally witnessed amputees and paraplegics cross the finish line. The inspiration of seeing someone step outside of their comfort zone to complete something that they never in a million years thought they could do is what it is all about for me.

The quintessential moment of my 2015 race season was traveling across the country to assist a friend’s family member in a Spartan Race™. This was a retired Marine Master Sergeant that is currently in stage 4 cancer. Completing a Spartan Race™ was on his bucket list. Against his doctor’s and some family members’ recommendations he entered and completed this race. This was a very humbling and emotional event for all who attended. As we crossed the finish line, we knew that we had not just run a race; we had experienced life at its fullest- fragile yet overpowering.

I currently serve as the production manager, safety coordinator, training coordinator for a family-owned avionics engineering firm called Global Aviation Technologies. I also hold a student private pilot’s license, FAA repairman certificate, and am an IPC certified soldering instructor. I am sponsored by Feed Me or Fight Me and Egg Whites International. I am also teaming with two other MAOCR members, as we start Temple FitCamp. I am also in the planning phase with two other partners about creating an obstacle course training facility/gym in Wichita.

I am the part #ctgfamily.

Benjamin DeBell